Once Upon a Time: Once upon a time there was a fiery, spirited soul who wanted to learn about true love. A love so pure that there were no strings attached. Every other soul said it couldn’t be found down on earth, but this soul was convinced and asked God if she could go. He granted her wish and off she went. She knew that once she got there she wouldn’t be able to remember anything from where she came. She was warned that the more she wanted to learn a lesson that contained pure joy, the more suffering could be endured. But she was not afraid. She knew that she would one day return to this beautiful place, where there was no pain or suffering, just joy, a place where time held no meaning and unconditional love was the norm.
On earth though, as a human, this was not true. On earth this truth was just a distant memory or dream, a spark within the human body that is what the soul becomes. Connected to God, and yet, separate. That is why it was such an exciting journey for this soul, because she knew that if she could find true requited love on earth she would feel the same peace as a human that she felt up here with God. This was told to be an amazing experience, one that many souls strive for, but very few humans ever reach.
Soon the day came, a wintry day on earth time, December 14th 1967. She was named R. R had many of the same fiery qualities on earth as in heaven. Unfortunately, R’s parents had many blocks to welcoming her. They were busy with two other children and overwhelmed by many of the stresses found on earth. As R grew, many of her beautiful soul qualities were hidden. People had so much pain that they couldn’t see R’s authentic self. So much so, that she came to believe she wasn’t lovable and that she was the cause for the pain in those around her.
In public her family seemed normal, happy, but in private her parents seemed to really hate each other. She felt as if it was all her fault. If only she could communicate more clearly, and take care of her parents better, somehow she could prevent them from fighting.
As R grew she found places she loved and felt safe, the woods, the brook behind her house, all animals. She loved swimming and reading and going to church. In these places, doing the thing she loves, she felt happy. Joy was a state inside her that felt normal.
The year when R turned eleven, her sister got really sick and almost died. She prayed that V would live and she did, but yet again R felt somehow to blame. V had lost her feet but R didn’t. V was angry and R couldn’t make it better, and at times, seemed to make it worse. Her parents argued even more, or they stayed away from home. Soon, R found a way to not feel.
R found pot. This was a good thing. This helped her navigate feelings so painful they would surely overwhelm her otherwise. And though none of the pain she felt was her fault, she didn’t understand that. She just knew that it felt good to laugh and be silly. R spent the rest of her childhood not really feeling. She learned how to get through life being numb.
A senior in high school R met a boy who treated her just like her parents treated each other. They fought and R thought it was love. Eventually they married and decided to have a baby. R’s soul spark started to come back. She wanted more for herself than she settled for. She wanted her husband to stop drinking and abusing her. They were so good at yelling, but now that she was pregnant she didn’t want the baby to hear the fighting.
So she left her husband. Being away from him brought relief for a time, but being alone brought her fear as well. Soon, she begged him to come back, to be with her before the birth.
Then the baby came. Almost a month early, R experienced labor pains, breaking water, and quickly to the hospital she went. The baby was breach, and a C-section was planned. R was medicated. Time and activity became a blur, and eventually, the baby was born. But, all was not well. “R, something is wrong…” Confusion….more drugs. Off to recovery she went.
R woke up, a twenty-three year old new mom, eager to hold her baby. He looked perfect, but he was not. She was told he might have Down syndrome, had needed an operation immediately after birth. Learning and facing so much at once, R turned to God. God, what is this? How do I cope?
R takes her fiery self to the library and learns whatever she can about Downs. She starts a journey of loving someone so much she thinks her heart might break. Baby B became a teacher sent to R from God. B had to work hard to do what other babies took for granted. R knew that he was truly a gift, and in knowing that, she started to find more and more of her authentic self, a self still buried beneath the pains and wounds of human life, and yet, still there.
Life became more full with children, a girl M, and another boy, K. Although unhappiness lingered within R’s heart due to an on again, off again marriage, R found joy as a mother. She learned to play. And because of how much she loved her children, she wanted to build a better life for them.
B was about to start kindergarten and a place called Vermont was the only state to get an “A” for inclusion. This was very important to R, for B to be fully included with his normally developing peers, not hidden away in a special room. She moved her family to Vermont.
R’s parents wanted to be close with the grandbabies, so they moved north, also, from Connecticut to Vermont. Though she struggled in her past with her parents, they ended up being a wonderful support for R. R’s husband continued to drink. She asked for a divorce. She went to the women’s crisis center and found support. She took the Alpha course at her church.
Soon life became even more full: Al-Anon meetings, church, and single parenting her three children. Through the fullness, more and more of R’s soul strength came through. She still felt afraid, but she now connected to her original desires. She loved her children dearly and appreciated her mom. She prayed to God to send healthy loving relationships.
Using pot and alcohol had created a wall between R and God and she wanted to live without mood-altering substances, without the block to pure love. It was hard work. Through the help of caring people and structures of support, R learned how to feel her emotions and process her feelings in a healthy way. She discovered that self-care was self-love. When she felt a glimmer of a far away place, a place of more joy than suffering, she realized that other people’s suffering were not because of her, but because they, too, had forgotten about the beautiful place from where they all came. She began her work to help others remember.